Reusable nappies: what you need to know

A friend recently asked me for advice regarding going down the reusable nappy route. I had an overwhelming amount of information that I wanted to share, so in an attempt to keep her above the surface, and provide lots of other mummas with some (hopefully) useful information, here’s my reusable nappy 101.

Before I begin, I would like to admit that I’m writing this post with a twinge of guilt. We stopped using reusable nappies around two months ago. More on that later…

When should I start?

There are lots of reusable nappies that claim to go from birth to toddler. Let me know if you find a nappy that fits your newborn baby without it going all the way up to their armpits – and possibly over their head too.

If you’re hoping to go reusable from the get-go, you’ll need nappies that are specifically for newborns – and unfortunately these will be too small after a couple of months. We went disposable for the first 4 months – Thalia was so tiny that we almost had to buy premature nappies, and we also had zero money to spend on an expensive set of reusable nappies. As cost-effective as they are in the long term, it can be quite a large payout at one time. If you do go disposable, there are lots of biodegradable and eco-friendlier nappy options out there! When we were back in the UK I really liked the NATY eco-friendly nappies sold in Boots.

Which reusable nappies are best?

There are so many options out there that it can be really hard to choose. And unfortunately, I don’t think we picked the best… We opted for 2-part nappies (with a cotton insert and waterproof liner), and got along with them really well for a long time! Unfortunately the covers started to leak after just one wee, which we assumed was simply because they were a year old. So we bought 2 new covers, which started leaking within the first 2 months of using them – and trust me, we paid careful attention to the care instructions the second time around!

The plastic covers also started to pinch Thalia’s skin and leave lasting marks, despite being as loose as possible on a toddler who was still 3kg under the maximum weight recommendation for the nappies. So we stopped. Luckily though, we’re now onto potty training and dry nappies during sleep so our waste is really minimal!

See if there are any local groups selling second-hand reusable nappies, or maybe you have a mum friend that could lend you a few to try out. That way you’ll be able to test a few different styles before deciding on your forever-nappies.

I’ve never used the all-in-one nappies, but would love to hear how you got on if you have!

How many reusable nappies do you need?

This really depends on your lifestyle. We bought a ‘starter pack’ of 20 nappies (and 8 covers, 4 x size 1 and 4 x size 2) and found that we had enough nappies but a couple of extra covers would have been great.

What’s my washing routine?

I tried to wash the nappies every time that we were down to two days’ worth – so when we had 7/8 left. We hand-washed the covers that we had used during the day every evening – using 1 or 2 per day depending on poos (they can just be wiped clean in between changes otherwise) – and occasionally threw them in with the nappies for a proper wash.

It’s best to wash nappies on a full cycle at 40/60 degrees, and let them dry in the sun. The sun is the best stain remover I have ever found! Otherwise I would just dry them in the house, but it does take a little longer.

For dirty nappies – you can get bio-degradable liners to put inside the nappy that allow you just flush the whole thing down the toilet. Otherwise you’ll have to get a little familiar with the toilet bowl – being a mum is not glamorous. My best technique was to hold the nappy poo-side down on the side of the bowl, then flush and wiggle it around. Gross, but it worked every time!

Is using disposables ok?

YES. We’ve got enough mum guilt to concern ourselves over than adding to that by worrying about sometimes using disposable nappies (I wrote that sentence just as much for myself as for you guys). And remember, there are lots of eco-friendly options out there!

As I said before, we used disposables for the first 4 months. We also used them at night and when I hadn’t had time to put a wash on. Reusable nappies don’t absorb in the way that disposable nappies do, and we noticed Thalia’s skin getting a little red after a night in a reusable nappy. But this it totally dependent on your baby and how much they wee in the night! You can also use extra inserts for better absorption.

Also, certain members of the household weren’t as fussed with committing to reusable as mumma bear over here…(ahem Daddy and Granny).

How long do reusable nappies last?

If you look after them following the care instructions, reusable nappies should last you for multiple babies and beyond! Unfortunately in our case, we’ll either have to invest in new nappies or buy more covers and hope that next time they don’t leak.

Are reusable nappies worth it?

Absolutely. If you’re committed to washing, handling a little poo, and possibly changing your baby’s bottom a little more regularly, reusable nappies will save both your wallet and the planet!

Have you had experience with reusable nappies? How did you get on? Let me know in the comments!

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